Any serial dater worth their salt has been to Mark’s Bar in Soho. Sitting underneath Hix restaurant on Brewer Street, it’s a dark cocktail den that balances between playful and romantic; not too much for a first date, just enough for a first kiss.
Hixter, another Mark Hix joint on Bankside, has a very similar basement bar but with less of a couples-only vibe. Post-work groups fuse with casual twosomes on third, fourth and 21st dates to create a very relaxed atmosphere. Grab a quick beer while standing, or perch on black cinema-style chairs at a low semi-circular bar necking cocktails. Then, if they’re worth it, sit down to steak upstairs.
First, red wine or Negronis at the bar. There’s a decent red around the £6 mark but on a date you should hover around the £9ers. Even if eating dinner upstairs, share a snack like chicken popcorn to line the stomach. Once in the restaurant, it’s giant Yorkshire pudding with whipped, buttery chicken livers to start. Then either a roast chicken for two or sirloin steaks, bernaise, chips and token greens. Dessert? I couldn’t possibly.
A 6pm seating in the bar followed by a 8pm restaurant session. Yes, that’s two hours of pre-drinking but, yes, you can get away with it here. Hobble upstairs, be bolshy with the fun waiting staff and sit at a table for four, side by side. Start on the tap water and food. Squeeze their hand conspiratorially under the table and drop a line. Then crack on with the meal and chat only about the trivial. Snog at the table but don’t go home together – you want to be messy in public, not private.
The restaurant isn’t always that full mid-week so you need to bring the noise (or apologise for it).
3. Probably not tonight but it’s brownie point central.